FAA finalizes rule for airports to implement safety management system

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finalized a rule that will require certain airports in the US to develop and implement what the administration calls a safety management system (SMS). 

The FAA defines SMS as a formal, top-down, organization-wide approach to managing safety risk and assuring the effectiveness of safety risk controls. It includes systematic procedures, practices, and policies for the management of safety risk.

Implementing SMS requires the development of a set of policies and procedures where companies identify, monitor and address potential operational hazards early on, before they become serious problems. 

US airlines have been required to operate SMS since 2018. The FAA credits SMS with helping to foster the ‘safest era in commercial aviation history’.

The rule was first proposed in January 2023, and the public had 60 days to comment on the proposal. 

Shannetta R. Griffin, P.E, Associate Administrator for Airports, said in a statement: “The safe operation of our nation’s airports is paramount during these historic times in aviation as we work to repair and construct necessary airport infrastructure.”

“This rule promotes safety and allows airports to work collaboratively with partners to mitigate risks and  avert accidents,” Griffin added. 

The final rule applies to more than 200 of the busiest commercial airports in the US. Depending on the airports’ classification and operations, they have a timeline of four to five and a half years to fully implement SMS.

The FAA said that the rule will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

FAQs and more information on SMS implementation can be read here.

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